Well, it’s that time of year again when the English Language world pay homage to the grand master of the English Language, William Shakespeare on what would be his four hundred and fifty-first birthday!
As I was thinking of a post to celebrate Shakespeare’s birthday I wondered to myself whether I could write about Shakespeare in business. Shakespeare in business? Sounds strange, doesn’t it? What could the Bard possibly have written that would have relevance in today’s business world?
Well, you’d be surprised. Shakespeare’s words have long resonated with people throughout the centuries as they have interpreted them and applied them to the different times in history. In interpreting his words and phrases, we’ve looked at ways we could apply their meaning to our lives both personal and professional.
As I started researching for this post, I found a couple of blogs that had selected a number of quotes from his plays that could be applied in the business world both as motivators and lessons to follow. (You can find both blogs listed below this post.)
And lo and behold, I wish to share them here with you. I would be very interested to know whether you agree with what Shakespeare had/has to say to us professionals.
1. Brevity is the soul of wit (Hamlet)
Indeed it is. Whether we’re in a meeting, writing an email or giving a presentation, being brief is essential. Your colleagues, readers and audience will thank you for your conciseness.
2. “Go wisely and slowly. Those who rush, stumble and fall.” (Romeo and Juliet)
In this age of 24 hour news and breakneck pace,it is a real challenge to find and, more importantly, to take the time to quietly reflect on what we’re doing in our business and why. Sometimes we’re so busy rushing around that we can make some bad decisions. It is important to slow down and consider all the options.
3. “Things won are done; joy’s soul lies in the doing.” (Troilus and Cressida)
We all love to get things or projects done and ticked off our to-do list in the shortest possible time. However, in our haste to get everything done we forget to enjoy the actual experience of doing the task or project.
In business, you often hear about entrepreneurs who build one business after another and never seem to stop. When asked why they don’t stop, their response is that they get the most pleasure when working and striving to achieve something.
4. “Strong reasons make strong actions.” (King John)
In business, it’s important to ensure that our decisions and actions are based on solid foundations, carefully thought out ideas and backed by solid facts. What do you think? Do you agree?
5. “We know what we are but know not what we may be.” (Hamlet)
Introspection is an important quality in business. It allows us to look at our strengths and weaknesses and to look at ways we can continue to improve and grow ourselves and our businesses. Hard work and perseverance will allow us to achieve so much more.
6. “How far that little candle throws his beams!” (The Merchant of Venice)
There are times when we are so tied down by the day- to -day details of running a business or doing our jobs that we often forget just how much we have achieved. People often talk about looking at the big picture and this quote says just that. Sometimes we need to step back and look at all that we have achieved.
7.“How poor are they that have not patience? What wound did ever heal but by degrees?” (Othello)
Such wise words. We’ve all been there. Rushing around, working towards deadlines, chasing the next deal and never once stopping to listen to our colleagues or peers. You never know – they might have a great idea or they might have a solution to a problem that has been bothering you. Patience is a virtue in business as well as in our personal lives. We would do well to practise some.
8. “It is not in the Stars to hold our Destiny but in ourselves” (Julius Caesar)
This can be applied both in our personal and professional lives. You often hear about people who envy entrepreneurs who seem to have achieved success so easily. And yet, when you read their stories you find many failures along the road to success. And never once did they leave their destiny to chance but took it in their hands and steered it and owned it.
9. “And oftentimes excusing of a fault doth make the fault the worse by the excuse.” (King John)
Don’t make excuses. They are weak. Take responsibility for your mistakes and make them right. It’s so important especially if you’re looking to establish a reputation and credibility with your business relationships.
10. “It is a tale…full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” (Macbeth)
There’s always someone you work with who will have this great idea and insist that it should be acted upon, but who cannot seem to back it up with real substance. Or the person who makes lots of promises but doesn’t deliver on any of them.
I don’t know about you but it seems to me that Shakespeare had and still has plenty to teach us in business. He is as relevant today as he was over 400 years ago. Thank you, Will and a very Happy Birthday to you, sir.
This post would not have been possible without these two blog posts:
10 Shakespeare Quotes Every Business Leader Should Read
10 Life Lessons You Can Learn from Shakespeare Quotes